European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Trans and intersex

Why is it important to have a specific focus on trans issues and on intersex issues?

Shared experiences of discrimination, stigmatisation or oppression.  A common desire to tackle established gender norms. Building a more inclusive sense of community.  The umbrella term ‘LGBTI’ can unite people for many different reasons.

As much as the term LGBTI unites us, it equally serves to highlight our individuality. LGBTI is not supposed to reduce everyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex into a homogenous block of people. There is enormous diversity in all the LGBTI communities. The experience of a trans person will differ in many respects from that of L,G or B person; the experience of an intersex person should not be labelled as identical to a trans person. However, there are specific human rights concerns for trans and intersex people that need to be looked at.

  • Overall awareness of trans and intersex human rights issues is still at an alarmingly low level, among the general public and policymakers alike. The fact that basic concepts related to trans and intersex often need to be explained to most people is evidence in itself.
  • In many respects, this lack of awareness also applies to the LGB community. Many lesbian, gay and bisexual people need more information on trans issues; while the issues faced by intersex are still unfamiliar territory for many organisations in the LGBTI community.
  • It must be also acknowledged that most trans and intersex people grow up in a social environment which is mostly unaware of their existence and needs.

Happily, this is starting to change. More dedicated organisations, such as Transgender Europe (TGEU) and Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe), are emerging that specialise in trans or intersex-specific issues. Trans activists in particular are becoming more visible and national conversations about legal gender recognition are becoming increasingly common across Europe.

However, the need to empower trans and intersex people to voice their needs and claim their rights cannot be overlooked. Greater visibility was essential in securing changes for LGB people and the same needs to happen for trans and intersex people too.

There are issues that are of particular interest to trans and intersex people:

  • Huge strides are starting to be made in the area of legal gender recognition. Countries that lag behind are now being encouraged to catch up with European leaders in the field, such as Denmark and Malta. Find the latest data on our Rainbow Europe module.
  • However, some governments continue to infringe on the bodily integrity of their trans and intersex citizens by enforcing sterilisation or other medical procedures as part of the legal gender recognition process. Such blatant human rights violations continue to occur in Europe.
  • Starting school can be an anxious time for any child but gender-variant children can face additional obstacles in the in the area of education

It is important to understand that trans and intersex are not interchangeable terms. For intersex people, there are also topics of special concern that vary from the needs of their LGBT peers. Intersex has only recently appeared  on the European human rights agenda and in many ways, the advocacy work is at an exciting stage of real development.

ILGA-Europe is dedicated to advocating for the human rights of trans and intersex people, working side-by-side with trans and intersex activists. We see our role as amplifying the voice of the movements and complementing each other’s work. In practice, this means that we join forces wherever possible.

This means that every day we try to mainstream specific trans and intersex issues in our advocacy and policy work. We do this whether it is in relation to education, hate crime, health or family. But we will also work on issues specific to trans and intersex people, such as legal gender recognition and the right to bodily integrity. This work is not happening in a bubble; it can only have the right impact if we work with trans and intersex activists.

This section is consequently divided into two sections: one dedicated to trans issues and another section dedicated to intersex issues.   


For more information, contact Sophie Aujean, Senior Policy & Programmes Ofiicer

In the section you can find out how ILGA-Europe is working on intersex issues and learn the basics about what intersex means.

In the section you can find out how ILGA-Europe is working on trans issues and learn the basics about what trans means.